Writing these weekly vignettes really reveals the gaps in my family research so please understand that this is a work in progress.
Today, Ancestry.com released the death certificates for Pennsylvania from 1906 through 1924, so I spent several hours collecting records for my ancestors who died during this period. I received one shock—the death certificate of Peter Bianchi, my great-uncle.
Peter was the son of Bonaventura and Maria Bianchi, one of fourteen children. According to his WWI draft registration, he was born on 21 Jun 1882. His birthplace depends on the time period and is listed variously as Prussia, Austria or Germany.
He arrived in New York on 1 December 1888 with his parents, two brothers and a sister. The family first settled in Hazelton, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania before relocating to Mount Carmel, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania in the mid-1890s. He married Katie Gower on 25 February 1908 in St. Edward’s RC church in Shamokin, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania.
Peter and Katie had the following children: Leona (b. 1909), Vincent (b. 1911, d. 1970) and Mildred (b. 1913, d. 2001).
According to Peter’s death certificate, he was born Sep. 1883 and died at the age of 39 on 5 January 1922 in Mount Carmel Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. Okay, here is the shocking news: his parents are listed as Peter Bianchi and Julia Bianchi both born in Austria. This information was given by Chas. Bianchi. Peter is buried in St. Mary’s RC cemetery in Mount Carmel.
Peter had a younger brother named Charles, and Peter is a member of the only Bianchi family in Mount Carmel that I have been able to discover in the various census records. My conclusion is that Charles Bianchi would have known his own parents, therefore, Peter’s parents. So is Peter really my great-uncle? Is he the natural son of Bonaventura and Maria Bianchi? Who are Peter and Julia Bianchi? I have found no older Peter Bianchi or Julia Bianchi in the 1880, 1900, 1910 or 1920 US censuses living in Mount Carmel. Did Bonaventura and Maria elect to raise an orphaned child of a sibling in Europe? Are there any other explanations?